Cover crop follow-up

Two months ago, I did a short video on growing cover crops and posted information about cover crops on this blog.  I wanted to follow up with you on this important topic so you can see how mine grew and what I've done with them.

In August, I planted Austrian field peas. I chose a legume for a cover crop because legumes fix nitrogen in the soil, which is a really important attribute.

As you can see from the photo above, they had great germination and grew really thickly.

Late last week, I removed the drip irrigation system from each of the beds that the cover crops have been growing in and then used some hedge shears to chop up the plants a bit. (photo at right)

Then I used a shovel and spading fork, to gently turn each clump upside down to cover most of them with an inch or two of soil (bottom photo). This will facilitate decomposition.

Using cover crops is a great way to add nutrients to your soil so future vegetable crops will grow well and be productive. It doesn't take long to plant them and to later turn them under. It was definitely worth my time.

There are some types of cover crops that you grow through the winter and turn under in the spring. Cornell University has a "decision tool" to help you decide which cover crops will work best for your garden and meet your needs. Be sure to check it out.

I purchased my seeds at Northwest Seed & Pet. A Master Gardener colleague of mine recently purchased a "green manure mix" containing field peas, buckeye and winter rye there. I missed out on getting some of those this year but you can bet it will be on my shopping list next summer!